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Wednesday, October 2. 2013
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Think rent vs. buy, somebody else has the hardware and does the software development, you just use the capabilities without keeping it all on your own computers. Pretty simple, each option own or rent has its own plusses and minuses
It's quite simple, really - technology intensive services can require a high level of scalability, not just in applications, but in storage, capabilities, or in any other aspect.
(it's really nothing more than "we own all the bits and pieces, you access it thru the interwebz, and you still pay us". Gotta dress it in fancy terms to justify the $$$ and bewilder the customers)
It is the old client–server model of computing where the OS and applications are on a mainframe and you use them with a "thin client" terminal.
Only with cloud computing it is not one single mainframe.
My cursory understanding is that your data is not on your own computer's hard drive, but in some central repository off in server-server land. I recall looking at the specs of some new computers- Apples most likely- which were slim and beautiful, but which had hardly any hard drive capacity. Sorry, I like to have my megabytes close at hand. I do not like the prospect of needing Internet access to get to my data. And with the terabyte and more capacity hard drives today, there is no storage capacity problem on your own computer, as there would have been a decade ir twi today.
Data storage is a big part of it, but "cloud computing" also means that you don't "own" the software either - you're uploading & downloading data.
Of course, this all supposes a fairly robust interwebz connection. Otherwise...
There was an occasion a few years ago when my company's IT department declared that they needed to remove the laptop that they provide to me, and to keep it until the next day. I had several important projects to work on, and access to a personal computer without the typical office software package -- but figured that I could use "google docs" to continue my work. I had, after all, used it successfully in the past on documents where I had been collaborating with others.
Well, unfortunately some error at a nearby construction site throttled back our network bandwidth that day, and my experiment with doing productive work using cloud "software as a service" was not as successful as I had hoped.
I've determined that for me it is important to keep a local copy of everything, and it must be openable by software that I have on hand and can run locally. This doesn't mean that I don't use the cloud where it provides advantages.
Virtual servers have been around for years. Cloud computing just turns them into commodities that can be easily turned on and off as business demands change. You can build a personal cloud on a single physical server with either a dedicated "cloud" platform like Cloudstack or VMWare, or even a Linux Ubuntu server as the host.
Cloud computing? Remember the old IBM 3270 terminals? It's like that with better graphics and some nice fonts.
The first two comments pretty much nailed it.
One of the biggest problems in IT is adapting to change. An application that is popular suddenly gets over-utilized. That new acquisition or new product suddenly requires tons of new resources for analysis. How and where can you get new resources (computing, storage, and applications)?
The answer starts with platforms and applications becoming more standardized or included in a framework that allows them to be quickly and easily deployed. Once you have that, you have the beginnings of "Software as a Service". Your IT staff doesn't have to do much of anything to get more capacity. It can move applications that aren't being heavily used, too.
The one thing I would definitely add to the first two comments is that cloud computing techniques can also be adapted and used inside your company's firewall. You can get terrific benefits from cloud computing, even if you own the equipment and software licenses. (Although with more excellent Linux-based software platforms, why pay software licenses?)
The other point to make is that your company should develop and regularly test a disaster recovery plan. Specifically, what happens if your main IT site burns down? It's more than just backing up your files and storing the results off-site. Cloud computing offers infrastructure to make full recovery fast, efficient, and lower-cost.
I think the comments explain it pretty well.
My wife worked for a company that basically provided 'cloud' computing back in the 90's. They even had access via the 'internet' - Compuserve, to be exact, so not truly the internet.
Still, when cloud computing became commonly used in the office a few years ago, I was asking the same question.
The answer is that it's not hugely different from some of the old Application Service Providers, except they can and will do much more for you.
The fact is it's scalable and usually the companies providing the services are so large you don't really suffer down-time. If you do, it's moderate.
My old mainframe computing system from the 1980's would crash and we'd be locked out for a few hours, up to one occasion when it required a full overhaul and we were out for 2 days. You won't see that with cloud computing. If you do, then you picked a poor provider.
If you have an iPhone, Apple offers storage in the 'cloud' now. Which really means you can store your apps and music virtually, and access them from any computer, without having to worry about storage space. I have a 100 gig hard drive backing up my 40 gig desktop. I store all my iPhone and financial stuff on the backup, mainly because I have it and I can unplug it from my computer if I want some degree of safety. I could store it all on the 'cloud', but then I have to think long and hard about keeping my financials someplace I'm not familiar with.
For some people, it's worth it. I'm just a knuckle-dragger.
The way I understand it, clould computing is where you entrust your data to a bunch of strangers.
Then you can access it from anywhere, e.g., home, office, Starbucks, McDonalds.
It can also be scrutinized by the NSA, many reasonably bright Chinese students, and the most recent winner of the ultra-secret Nigerian lottery.
It is no secret that a lot of the research that went into "cloud" computing came out of Fort Mead, the IBM R&D group in White Plains, Google and Amazon's Product Development labs.
It is the "perfect storm" of vaporware and government intrusion. Vaporware in that you're paying for something, and essentially the same amount as software on a CD, which doesn't exist except on some server out in North Dakota. Government intrusion in that there are back doors built into this vaporware to track usage and production for both companies and government.
Put simply, you're paying for a product on a rental basis at the same price that you would pay, over time, for hard copy that you own.
"Perfect storm" -- exactly. If you like Big Government now, you'll love cloud computing. Big Bro is watchin' ya!
think of your computer.
Now run software that virtually creates two computers inside it, one running XP and one running Vista (could be linux, dos, etc..). Now you can set it up so user1 uses xp and user2 uses vista. If user1 needs more hard drive storage you tweak the VM setup to give that virtual xp system a little more hard drive space.
Now create a huge machine with 100s of servers and 1000s of terabytes and start selling small virtual pieces of it over the internet.
Those are what they call clouds.